Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year Green Resolutions - Use E15 petrol only

My Renault Megan 2.0 litre engine is warranteed to takes up to a 15% blend of ethanol and gasoline. The French have been driving on blended petrol and biodiesel/diesel blends for years. There is an independent petrol station in Randwick selling an E15 blend under the name of ULP. My New Year Resolution is to merge the two happy co-incidences and give them my custom.

The rewards are many. The ethanol is derived from Queensland grown sugarcane so this helps reduce Australia's reliance on foreign oil infrastructure. It gives the Megane more punch when needed and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions as this report from 2003 shows.

Engine performance and total emissions are both improved by the addition of ethanol to gasoline. The clean burning nature of ethanol allows you to capture more of the work from the fossil portion of the gasoline, which compensates largely for the lower energy content of ethanol itself. In a 10 per cent blend (E10), all other things being held the same, you might get a zero to 2.7 per cent loss in mileage (kilometres per litre).

Another performance benefit from ethanol is its high octane addition to fuel. Of all the commercially viable octane enhancers possible, nothing delivers more punch than ethanol. The populace still feels the ill effects of the tons of poisonous lead that were spewed into urban environments because of the poor decision to accept lead over ethanol as the octane additive of choice.

But will I really achieve any good? Choice Magazine weighs up the pros and cons:
Ethanol-blended petrol has advantages and disadvantages for the environment over normal petrol ? the extent of most of them depends on factors such as the percentage of the blend, the engine type and how the ethanol was produced:
  • A 10% blend generally reduces the car?s emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, some carcinogens such as benzene and toluene and ? in some circumstances ? the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. However, due to the government subsidy, any reduction of carbon dioxide emissions comes at a very high price compared to other initiatives.
  • Ethanol increases the petrol?s volatility, and therefore the amount of evaporative emissions of volatile organic compounds, which can contribute to global warming and the formation of ground-level ozone (summer smog). This can be avoided by changing the volatility of the petrol used for blending.
  • There are higher emissions of carcinogenic aldehydes (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde) and ? in most cases ? of oxides of nitrogen.
  • Overall, there seems to be little benefit for urban air quality or greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of ethanol-blended petrol. However, as ethanol is produced from agricultural products or waste, it?s a renewable energy source.
In the end analysis, if 15% of the fuel I am using is made from carbons that have been sucked out of the atmosphere rather than the ground that is an overall environmental gain for me. I'll just have to wait till 2007 to order my solar car.

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3 comments:

Eric de Jager said...

Your absolutely right,the best way to go --> E15 and up.
Just look at www.e15blends.com and see for yourslef what the advantages are!

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